| By Olu Ojewale |
HIS death was really not unexpected. But when Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday, December 5, it was like a rude shock to the whole world that he has left behind to mourn him. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa brought the message home to the whole world when he announced the passing away of the global icon, in a nation-wide television broadcast, on Thursday, December 5. Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Although we knew this day was going to come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.” The South African president acknowledged Mandela’s importance to the world, saying “His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him their love.”
Indeed, since his death became public, nothing short of love has been shown by people all over the world in and appreciation of what Mandela had accomplished in his lifetime. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria in a condolence letter, said: “Dr. Mandela served as a source of inspiration to the oppressed peoples all over the world. In the course of his life-long epic struggle for freedom, fairness, justice, equity and the human rights of his oppressed people, Dr. Mandela made unparalleled personal sacrifices. The indefatigable spirit which he demonstrated throughout his life will continue to inspire present and future generations.”
Looking grim and sad, President Barack Obama of the United States, in his tribute said: “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human being that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa – and moved all of us.
“His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings – and countries – can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him, set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humour, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable.”
Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, said Mandela “was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration… Let us continue each day to be inspired by Nelson Mandela’s lifelong example.”
President Francois Hollande of France said: Mandela’s message would “continue to inspire fighters for freedom, and give confidence to peoples in the defence of just causes and universal rights”.
Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, said Mandela’s “political legacy of non-violence and the condemnation of all forms of racism” would continue to inspire those he left behind.
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said Mr Mandela would “guide all those who fight for social justice and for peace in the world”, and Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India, said: “This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian. His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come.”
David Cameron, prime minister of Britain, said: “One of the brightest lights of our world has gone out … a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death-true global hero.” Queen Elizabeth II, in statement from Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night. He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today.”
Prince Charles in his tribute said: “Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation. He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life. With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family’s lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, described Mandela as “the most honourable figure of our time,” adding: “He was the father of his people, a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence. He set a personal example for his people in the long years he spent in prison.”
Mahmud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, said Mandela was “a symbol of the liberation from colonialism and occupation. The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free.”
Fredrick de Klerk, former president of South African, who freed Mandela from prison in 1990 and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with him in 1993, said: “Tata, we shall miss you – but know that your spirit and example will always be there to guide us to the vision of a better and more just South Africa.”
Bill Clinton, former US President, said: “We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life.” Tony Blair, former British prime minister, in his tribute said: “It’s not just what he did but the way he did it that makes him very special. He did it with a grace and a dignity that I think really inspired people everywhere.” To Mary Robinson, former Irish president, “His death leaves us bereft – it is felt by all of us as a personal loss.”
Muhammad Ali, boxing legend, said: “What I will remember most about Mr Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.” Tiger Woods, world number one gulf player, who met Mandela 15 years ago, said: “He certainly had an impact on my life and certainly my father’s… When he came out (of prison), the country could have fallen apart. It could have gone a lot of different ways, and he led it to where it’s at now. And the world is going to miss him.”
Jesse Jackson, a reverend and a civil rights leader in the US, said of Mandela: “That sense of principle, tough mind, tender heart, was Nelson Mandela.” Desmond Tutu, an archbishop emeritus: “He was a unifier from the moment he walked out of prison… We are relieved that his suffering is over, but our relief is drowned by our grief.” Salil Shetty, secretary-general, Amnesty International, said; “Nelson Mandela’s commitment to human rights was epitomised by his unswerving resolve to stamp out racial inequality during apartheid, followed by his vital work in combating HIV/Aids in South Africa.”
Idris Elba, who played the lead role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, said: “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” Morgan Freeman, another actor who played Mandela, said the world had lost “one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve – a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.”
– Dec. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT